Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Social Change Philanthropy

What is social change philanthropy?

"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the economic injustice that makes philanthropy necessary."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For this post, we will explore Social Change Philanthropy. Dr. King's quote is spot on. Honest advocates for social justice must cut to the chase and help move our society beyond superficially addressing the many significant challenges we face. What is needed is an inclusive and effective engagement of the diversity of our nation for self-empowerment and economic justice. We will explore some of the trends and resources in the emerging field of Social Philanthropy which seeks to fund authentic social change from the grass roots up.

Resource Generation

Resource Generation
is a national organization that works with young people with financial wealth who are supporting and challenging each other to effect progressive social change through the creative, responsible and strategic use of financial and other resources.

Our purpose is to promote innovative ways for young people with wealth to align their personal values and political vision with their financial resources to deepen their social and civic engagement. Resource Generation supports the ability of these young people to better understand themselves as philanthropists, their place in the socio-economic system, and their capacities to contribute to social change. Resource Generation builds cross-class alliances with people and organizations working for social, racial and economic justice.


What is social change philanthropy?
"Social change philanthropy focuses on the root causes of social, economic and environmental injustices. It strives to include the people who are impacted by those injustices as decision-makers. It also aims to make the field of philanthropy more accessible and diverse. In social change philanthropy, foundations are accountable, transparent and responsive in their grantmaking. Donors and foundations act as allies to social justice movements by contributing not only monetary resources but their time, knowledge, skills and access. Social change philanthropy is also sometimes called social justice philanthropy, social movement philanthropy, and community-based philanthropy.

Funders’ Network
The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that exists to inspire, strengthen and expand philanthropic leadership and funders’ abilities to support organizations working to improve communities through better development decisions and growth policies. It brings together foundations, nonprofit organizations and other partners to address the range of environmental, social, and economic problems caused by development strategies that fail to consider the big picture.

Poor planning and decision making at every level – national, state, regional and local – has resulted in sprawling metropolitan growth patterns that are rapidly consuming open space and farmland to provide housing and services for new suburban populations. At the same time, these decisions have encouraged the draining of population, jobs and other resources out of cities and older suburbs, contributing to a concentration of poverty in many urban neighborhoods. Rapidly developing suburbs also face their own set of problems as they grapple with the costs of growth—congestion, loss of open space, school overcrowding—without adequate resources.

Social Change Philanthropy and How It's Done

HANDS ON: There are many paths to social change. Here's how funders dedicated to that concept go about supporting it.
by Alison D. Goldberg

"Social change philanthropy" is the term used to describe grantmaking that aims to address the root causes of social and economic inequalities.

A number of social change foundations were created in the last three decades to support community organizing, social activism and political advocacy. These foundations continue to adopt new methods for gathering and integrating the input, experience and leadership of community leaders and disenfranchised populations to make informed grant decisions.

Despite their growth in numbers, the ranks of social change foundations are still relatively small in the world of philanthropy. The National Network of Grantmakers estimates that less than 3 percent of all domestic, private, institutional grantmaking is distributed to social change causes. The numbers show that foundation resources have been overwhelmingly distributed to direct service programs providing important support in a climate of eroding safety nets but not effecting policy changes to solve social problems.

Economic disparity in the United States has worsened significantly during the past two decades, so that today the wealthiest 1 percent of the population controls 40 percent of household wealth. In the contemporary political environment, organizations working for social and economic justice have an immediate need for resources to support their work.

The Means Matters as Much as the Ends

What distinguishes social change philanthropy (also called "social movement," "social justice" or "community-based" philanthropy) from other forms of grantmaking is the central tenet that philanthropy's success is measured not only by where money is given, but also the process by which it is given.

Social change philanthropy strives to incorporate giving principles that provide access to those left out of grantmaking in order to support their campaigns for social and economic justice.

The following are core principles of social change philanthropy:

It focuses on marginalized and disenfranchised communities. Social change philanthropy focuses on social and economic justice issues that affect marginalized and disenfranchised communities. This includes protecting the rights of communities of color, low-income populations, women, immigrants, international communities, disabled people, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The issues and campaigns that social change philanthropy supports include civil and human rights, political access, peace and nonviolence, worker's rights, anti-poverty strategies, environmental justice, corporate reform, prison reform, education and healthcare access, as well as challenges to international trade and privatization.

It addresses root causes. Social change foundations support work by community leaders that creates systemic or policy change to address the root causes of problems. Rather than applying Band-Aid solutions to problems, it aims to prevent the problems in the first place. Such work requires shifting the power dynamics in communities through grassroots organizing, advocacy, policy-related work, research and activism.

It strives to be accountable to marginalized and disenfranchised communities. Grantmakers are accountable to a board of trustees. Social change foundations recognize a second, equally (if not more) important level of accountability the communities where they make grants.

That's why social change foundations invite community leaders and the people affected by the foundation's programs to participate in the needs assessments and related decision making. Participation might range from establishing advisory groups to inviting members of the affected communities to serve as board members. Also, social change foundations investigate the demographics of grantees' leadership to determine whether the organizations are community-led.

It establishes inclusive processes. Social change foundations pay particular attention to the accessibility of their grantmaking processes for grassroots organizations, recognizing that generally these groups operate with very few staff members who have little time to spend writing proposals. They are concerned with grantees' access to information and whether their processes are respectful of grantees' time. Foundation staff often will take part in workshops or other training programs to evaluate their assumptions especially, those that guide their perspectives on social issues, and therefore, their grantmaking. Evaluating the power issues that inform the experiences of grantmakers will help them become more effective and improve their communications with grantees who are likely to have race and class backgrounds different then their own.

While traditional philanthropy also works to benefit marginalized and disenfranchised communities and to support the root causes of issues, the process, players and analysis of politics and power are what distinguish social change philanthropy from other forms of grantmaking. Peace Development Fund Executive Director John Vaughn puts it this way: "It is more than teaching people to fish. It's supporting their efforts to get a company to stop polluting the lake they're trying to fish in."

"Change Not Charity"

Social change philanthropy is not new. It dates back to the early twentieth century and has grown steadily since the 1950s. Support in the 1950s and 1960s went mainly to the civil rights and peace movements.

In the 1970s, the alternative funds that eventually became the Funding Exchange network were created. These public charities, established by wealthy inheritors, created funding boards that included or were made up entirely of local activists under the banner "change, not charity."

Since 1979 the Funding Exchange network (www.fex.org) has had a major influence in shaping social change philanthropy. The http://www.nng.org/ (www.nng.org), which was created 20 years ago, serves as a professional network for practitioners of social change philanthropy and currently is affiliated with more than 200 grantmaking organizations (see the profile of NNG on page 10 of this issue).

More recently, an infrastructure has emerged that supports social change philanthropy among specific demographic groups. The rapid growth of funds to support and promote philanthropy among women, African Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and progressive religious communities are important components of social change philanthropy, providing learning and support networks. In addition, a "young donor organizing movement" has emerged with the development of a number of organizations and networks through which young people are using their financial resources for social change (see "Young donors support social change," page 36).

Varying Degrees of Intensity

Several foundations have incorporated components of social change philanthropy, in varying degrees of intensity, to address a wide range of issues. Examples of methods include: continue here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Green Power: Buyer Beware

To Heck with Green
With consumers feeling blue, companies are dialing back on green marketing. In a survey of 72 companies by Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, chief marketing officers ranked environmental issues lowest on a list of five priorities over the coming 12 months. Even Wal-Mart (WMT), which has beaten the sustainability drum in recent years, is going easy. Green issues were mentioned in 12 of its press releases in the year through Sept. 11, compared with 29 during the same period last year. (Advertising Age)
—Edited by Harry Maurer & Cristina Linblad

Green Power: Buyer Beware

Utilities are offering renewable options to customers for a fee—but most of the extra revenue is going to marketing
by Ben Elgin and Diana Holden
Business Week Online
Green Biz September 18, 2008, 5:00PM EST text size: TT

It's one of the latest ways big business claims to be curbing global warming: More than 750 utilities across the country now offer customers the chance to pay a premium on their electricity bills to generate "green power." But it turns out that, in many cases, most of the money goes for marketing costs, and little can be traced to the generation of additional renewable energy.

Lisa Baker of Atlanta jumped at the opportunity last summer to protect the environment when Georgia Power invited consumers to pay extra to "help bring more renewable power to Georgia." Paying the minimum annual premium of $54 "is equivalent to planting 125 trees or not driving 2,000 miles," the utility, a unit of giant Southern Co. (SO), boasts on its Web site. Baker, a 33-year-old freelance writer, joined more than 4,000 other customers who signed up for the Green Energy program. "I wanted [the utility] to know there's a market for renewable power," she says.
But public records show that more than 60% of the $239,000 spent during the second quarter of 2007, when Baker signed up, went to advertising and administration. "They are preying on people's good will," says Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, an advocacy group in Knoxville.

Georgia Power says the 60% figure has now dropped to only 15% of overall costs. The company adds that much of the rest goes to purchases from a local landfill that generates methane from decomposing garbage.

But buying gas-powered electricity from the landfill doesn't appear to achieve any additional environmental benefit: The renewable gas-from-trash is now actually less expensive than conventional sources like coal. "Any utility would use the landfill gas [without customers' green premium]. It's a no-brainer," says Smith.

Georgia Power counters that electricity generated by landfill methane was more expensive than other power when the program began in 2006. In addition, the company says it aims to reduce the green premium by as much as 22%.

More than 600,000 U.S. households have signed up for utility-sponsored programs claiming that they reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. That's nearly double the figure from 2004, according to the federally funded National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

But given their eagerness for environmental bragging rights, many of the power companies are strangely reluctant to explain with specificity how extra payments from consumers produce green energy that wouldn't be generated otherwise.

In July the Florida Public Service Commission pulled the plug on Florida Power & Light's green energy program after an audit found that more than half of the premiums collected went to marketing and administration instead of renewable energy purchases. The program, known as Sunshine Energy, had more than 38,000 participants paying an additional $9.75 a month. In a regulatory hearing in July, Public Service Commissioner Nathan Skop described the program as "all about PR and of little substance."

Florida Power & Light staunchly defends the program, arguing that billboards, newspaper ads, and bill inserts were needed to alert consumers. The utility says that the rest of the money went to new solar-power installations and the purchase of renewable energy credits. RECs are certificates indicating that a green power developer, such as a wind farm, has generated environmentally friendly energy. Purchasers of RECs take credit for funding the clean power. Florida Power & Light won't disclose, however, most of the sources that supplied RECs to its Sunshine Energy program, citing confidentiality obligations.

Utilities devoting only a modest slice of voluntary green premiums to renewable power generators is something of a pattern. Duke Energy's (DUK) GoGreen Power program in Indiana has signed up more than 1,100 customers, who pay a premium of at least $5 per month. According to Duke's marketing literature: "Purchase of GoGreen power ensures that a specified amount of electricity is produced from renewable sources." But records for 2007 reveal less than 18% of the premiums, or about $15,800, went to brokers to buy RECs; 48%, or $42,950, went to marketing the program.

Duke says that while it has had to spend significant amounts to recover GoGreen's start-up costs, the program has nevertheless already contributed to protecting the environment.

Elgin is a correspondent in BusinessWeek's Silicon Valley bureau . Holden is an intern in BusinessWeek's Atlanta bureau.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Vehicle, a Method and a Bridge to a Green Future

A repost from Saturday, September 27, 2008
A Passion for People, Profits and a Sustainable Future

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand."
~Woodrow Wilson

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."
~Edward Everett Hale

Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship is the work of a social entrepreneur. A social entrepreneur is someone who recognizes a social problem and uses entrepreneurial principles to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. Whereas business entrepreneurs typically measure performance in profit and return, social entrepreneurs assess their success in terms of the impact they have on society and often work through nonprofits and citizen groups.

What is a Social Entrepreneur?

A social entrepreneur is a different kind of social leader who:

-Identifies and applies practical solutions to social problems by combining innovation, resourcefulness and opportunity.

-Innovates by finding a new product, a new service, or a new approach to a social problem

-Focuses first and foremost on social value creation and in that spirit, is willing to share openly the innovations and insights of the initiative with a view to its wider replication

-Doesn’t wait to secure the resources before undertaking the catalytic innovation

-Is fully accountable to the constituencies s/he serves

-Resists being trapped by the constraints of ideology or discipline

-Continuously refines and adapts approach in response to feedback

-Has a vision, but also a well-thought out road-map as to how to attain the goal

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

-Describes an approach to a social issue. It is not a field of discipline that can be learned in academia.

-More related to leadership than to management

-An approach that cuts across disciplines (medicine, engineering, law, education, investment banking, agronomy, environment, etc.) and is not confined to sectors (health, transportation, finance, labor, trade, and the like).

Social Entrepreneurship

“The green economy has the power to deliver new sources of work, wealth and health to low-income people — while honoring the Earth. If you can do that, you just wiped out a whole bunch of problems. We can make what is good for poor black kids good for the polar bears and good for the country.”
~Van Jones, Head of the Ella Baker Center and founder of, Green for All

Equal Access to Civil Justice: Pursuing Solutions Beyond the Legal Profession
“When the fundamental principles of fairness and equal justice through the rule of law are shaken, the cornerstones of our democratic society are threatened. Respect for justice and laws is diminished when large segments of our society do not have equal access to civil justice because they cannot obtain legal assistance to resolve disputes that touch on the very basics of life (e.g., health care, food, and shelter) or to seek legal redress of their grievances.”
~Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol. 17, No. 1, 1998

"The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends."
~Alan Watts (1915 - 1973), English mystic & writer. "The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" (Vintage), Page: 9,10

A Vehicle, a Method and a Bridge to a Green Future
A Passion for People, Planet and Profit (P3)

What if we could truly improve our Community?

Would you be willing to give the possibility consideration? Real thought and deliberation? The project before you will elicit “Buy In” at all levels, from Business Executives to Hourly Employees, Entrepreneurs to Civil Servants, and Professionals to Craftsmen. It seems safe to say we all see the need for the stake-holders of our community to fix for ourselves that which should to be fixed, to correct that which needs correcting. Now is the time to come together as a body of citizens, community and business leaders and public servants who recognize our responsibility to ourselves and our neighbors.

What is the vehicle to accomplish such a goal? Oddly enough it is founded in one of the most capitalistic and misunderstood ideas, The Direct Sales Industry or, as it is also known, Network Marketing. We all know the phrase of doom, “We’re looking for a few sharp people” at which point we cringe and run for the exits. However this concept isn’t designed solely to benefit the “Upline & Downline” rather, it is to generate capital to create a social venture capital fund that will manage and allocate resources to an Umbrella Organization made up of citizens, business leaders and civic leaders who will allocate the revenue generated to areas of need within our community. Naturally, individual distributors are compensated and a viable product is offered to people who often need this service when they least can afford it. In the best fashion of capitalism it is a win/win for all parties in the process. A product of value is offered, a need is met, individuals have an additional revenue stream, a community has democratic access to additional capital and is better for the effort.

As you will see after your review of the project, this will be accomplished by adding value to companies, employees and the community, value created from the hopes, dreams and efforts of our fellow citizens. This project will allow them each to contribute to the real improvement of the community with a broadly inclusive, city-wide project of beauty, social up-lift, enterprise and sustainability. I invite you to take a clear-eyed and open-minded look at this innovative project combining the best impulses from our citizenry with the dynamism of the free market to produce a synergy that is greater than the sum total of the parts.

Before we get to the core of this proposal, please review the following commentaries about the critical role of Social Justice to meeting sustainability challenges and how one businessman is blazing a trail for more enlightened business practices.

Five E’s Unlimited
A System's Approach to Sustainable Development

Today’s problems cannot be solved with today’s mindset. Incremental changes are inadequate; a bold and broad agenda for systemic changes in values, lifestyles, institutions, and politics is required.

The Nexus of Sustainability & Social Equity: Virginia’s Eastern Shore (USA) as a Local Example of Global Issues
R. Warren Flint


Mona J.E. Danner
Old Dominion University


The practice of sustainable development requires society to equally and simultaneously address economic enhancement along with actions that offer environmental protection, while also insuring that the most disadvantaged people in our communities are provided the ability to improve their quality of life. The ethnic and class stratification of different societal sectors represents one of the most tenacious forms of inequality in any part of the world. For this reason, where inequities persist in severe forms, ideas about balancing economic development and environmental preservation may be particularly contentious. The primary premise of this paper assumes that without equity considerations economic and environmental sustainability objectives of a region cannot be achieved.

If we expand the meaning of environmental equity or justice beyond disproportionate impact from pollution on public health, and combine issues of populations that are disproportionately affected by environmental insults as well as adequate access to environmental benefits, then we have a paradigm under which to explore mechanisms for poor people to derive equal benefits from the advantages of environmental related business income. By exploring how poor people might benefit from nature‑based business activities as an example, we can begin to demonstrate important linkages between a foundation of good environmental quality and the prosperous development of economic activity in certain societal sectors that might otherwise not make this connection.

This paper addresses a Virginia Eastern Shore (USA) case history example to explore whether or not a nature‑based economy and consideration of a targeted, value-added tax on this industry's income can finance the transition of a region's neediest citizens to a better quality of life and in‑turn a more amenable setting to further enhance economic development in the region that is environmentally sustainable. A focus on environmental equity emerges as key in this discussion because of the historical disregard for the environmental health and rights of disenfranchised peoples, where a disproportionate and dangerous ecological price for economic growth has been paid by poor people and people of color, both in the United States and in other nations. Thus, the nexus of sustainable development and equity, where equity considerations loom large in the search for economic development that does not degrade natural resources.

The Nexus of Sustainability & Equity
"Individual and collective economic vitality is an important element of any sustainable community. But sustainable development cannot be achieved unless jobs are environmentally clean and do not contribute to air or water pollution or create toxic wastes. Further, social equity must dominate community dynamics so there exists a climate of fairness -- evenhandedness both economically and environmentally -- toward achieving social well‑being for all. In essence, we are practicing sustainable development when we find the means to equally and simultaneously address economic development with environmental protection, while also insuring that the most disadvantaged people in our society are provided the ability to improve their quality of life. If disproportionately impacted community members aren't able to improve their well-being, the best designed plans will not meet with success and future generations will not enjoy a high quality of life. This is the nexus of sustainable development and equity -- without equity and justice considerations sustainability objectives cannot be achieved."

The Meaning of Profit
The Story, Friday, September 26 2008

Part of the bailout package before Washington includes salary limits for top executives of Wall Street companies. The fear is that many CEOs will continue to get rich while the rest of the country, and the world, go into a financial tailspin.

Hal Taussig believes that CEOs have a responsibility to do more than earn wealth for themselves. He created a successful travel company called Untours. The company has a budget in the millions and maintains a healthy profit margin - but Hal does not keep any of the profits. He donates them to charity.

Hal talks to Dick Gordon about the spontaneous moment that led him to this alternative business lifestyle. The result swims against the tide of the profit motive: Hal actually finds that having an empty bank account is exhilarating.

* Learn more about the Untours company and foundation
* Learn more about B Corporation, an organization of business leaders like Hal


B Corporation
Higher purpose. Higher standards of accountability, transparency, and performance. These leaders across the United States have created profitable, competitive businesses while taking care of their employees, community, and environment. Meet the B Corps »

We envision a new sector of the economy which harnesses the power of private enterprise to create public benefit.

This sector is comprised of a new type of corporation the B Corporation which is purpose-driven and creates benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

As members of this emerging sector and as entrepreneurs and investors in B Corporations,

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

- That we must be the change we seek in the world.

- That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.

- That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.

- To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.

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